What is the robots.txt file?

A robots.txt file is used to control the crawling behavior of bots. This file contains instructions about how the bot should behave when crawling the website. If you want to hide something from the search engines, you write it in the robots.txt file. The robots.txt file is located in the root directory of your website. Mostly it is also named exactly as “robots.txt”.

What can you use robots.txt files for?

A robots.txt file is basically a text file that tells Googlebot what it can and cannot do when crawling your website. It does this by telling Google which URLs it should ignore and which URLs it should follow. This is especially useful for websites that may have duplicate content, private websites or pages that should not be displayed in the SERPs.

By adding the appropriate commands to your robots.txt file, you can ensure that Google will not index these files even if someone tries to manually add them to the URL.

What do you have to consider in the robots.txt file?

Before you create or edit the robots.txt file, you should note that crawlers are not obliged to follow the instructions of robots.txt files. Some crawlers will reject your instruction even though they are supposed to follow it. Also, robots.txt files are not supported by some search engines. Whether a bot follows your instructions depends on what kind of crawler it is. For example, the Googlebot follows the instructions in robots.txt files, but the BingBot does not. If you don’t want to allow crawling, you should consider other ways to block unwanted visitors. These include password protecting private files on your server, setting up IP address restrictions and adding headers to your HTML code. You can also password protect individual pages of your website if you don’t want unauthorized people to have access to these contents.

robots.txt and search engine optimization

The robots.txt file is one of the most important files for search engine optimization. In it you define which crawlers are allowed to access your website and which are not. In this way, you can cause the indexing of certain pages or directories. It is also important to know that the robots.txt file also influences the crawling process of the search engines themselves. When a crawler enters a directory, it will automatically crawl everything contained in it. However, if a directory is marked as forbidden via the robots.txt file, it will be ignored by the crawler, provided they adhere to your specifications.

Can you trust your robots.txt blindly?

The robots.txt file is a standard way of signaling to search engines what they may and may not index. However, although it is a widely used tool, there are still some questions about whether it can be relied upon. In particular, many websites use it to block crawling completely, even though they allow visitors to access the site normally. This makes sense for privacy reasons, but doesn’t really stop bots from accessing the site. Both Google and Bing state that they respect the robots file, but they are not legally bound to follow it. They are free to ignore it completely.

Even if they don’t technically break the rules, they could still do things like store cookies on your computer without asking you for permission.


Just contact us

  +49 9381 5829000